~ a short story
Another cold night, the chirping of bats and the squawking of dread enveloped me.
God forbid he warn us.
The castle’s perimeter was a familiar forest, one enchanted by haunters. A full moon’s blasting light and sickly shadows fell over the leaves and larvae. The dark beauty faded away and chills swarmed me to the bone as I made my realization: Any listeners would be hard to find.
I took comfort in my broach’s countercharming invisibility to the winds of the wilds.
At least it would be safe for me to stroll through the environ, on the clock or not.
I worked for Dracula. And this was the fifth dimension this week. My proselytizing would have to holster to a hum. I’d patrol and do overwatch on the new plane’s landing, up until the big guy bored of a place so freed from his influence and unamenable to his hunger, and decided to jaunt on ahead to his next feasting ground. Start all over again.
Wonder what Luciis was doing tonight?
I walked into the forest undaunted and fully unaware of what it was my role required as “Dracula’s courier.”
The truth is: I didn’t know anything yet, not at this point. I believed I was grabbing travelers in order for them to join our ranks, new warriors for a new age in a new kind of castle. One day. I’d just been unsuccessful up to that point. That would change tonight.
“So you really work for him?” the high-pitched one asked, his teeth chattering in the night. They’d avoided the haunters so far. But it was only a matter of time.
“Yeah. And his castle is just over here. Don’t take my word for it, come along,” I motioned for them to move with me. My introduction was swift, just as I practiced while walking up and down the towers every day.
They all smiled, two of the three moved toward me.
“Big D! Big boss!” said the littlest one, a shortbow over his shoulder.
“Ain’t no way,” said the one with crossed arms, bored of his party’s trekking.
“We should investigate either way, this is just the sort of thing warriors like us should pursue,” said the one with the braving voice and the puffed chest.
Their loose armor tinkled against chests and arms. They began to follow me in a march. I was ecstatic.
My first bounty cleared!
“Luciis!” I called out. He awaited at the door. As he turned, his eyes widened and nostrils flared. Long black hair drenched his shoulders. The long mustache finally came to fruition upon crinkled lips. Purple satin flowed around his sandals. Misshapen nails jutted out from the straps. His position at the door was improbable. His eyes fell upon the kids behind me.
“You brought guests,” he purred.
“I did. They want to meet him. He’s a personal hero of theirs.”
“Is that so?” whispered Luciss with narrowing eyes.
“Speak for yourself,” one of them said, with a shove to follow. They whispered to a quieted hold as the two of us looked back at them. They really were kids.
“We are here to … see your castle and meet your boss,” said the tallest of them, hand on his sword hilt.
“Welcome in,” said Luciis, his hand suddenly on the door pushing it in. His grin was like a cat’s. The scizard, a cross between a scientist and a wizard, shuddered a hoarse laboring cough as the children piled through the doorway. His back hunched and creaked.
I rarely saw him. Seeing him now made me nauseous. He didn’t have the constitution to be outside in the moonlight. The man was an inside beast, a machine-man in an ill-fitted robe. Scented oils and sweats fell off him as we approached.
I was the only one of the two that Drac employed thus far that was “away team.” Much of Luciis’ time was spent fine-tuning the castle’s inner material-magicks to ensure our near-nightly teleportation.
I followed them in beside Luciis, more confident and enlivened by the fresh air, feeling like a steward to an unforgettable experience for a group of travelers.
This was certainly true, in another way.
By the time we got to the door, one of the three was already gone. Devoured.
Through Drac’s door, to which up to that point I’d only seen glimpses of, there was an enfeebling darkness. Luciis led us to that door and then through it. Into that killing ground. And I didn’t see him again until the next morning.
Dracula grabbed my throat first. That was to protect me, to get me in one place for the ensuing chaos of his impossible form.
He moved faster than my eyes could watch. Ironically, he was the only thing I could see — it was the environment around us that washed away. He was running along the walls, primeval hiss drowning the wailing of the armored adventurers, a blur of grey and white, then red.
His hands were slashing and swiping, bones and hearts tearing like liquid through his fingers at what I later could only recount to Luciis in his lab as “light speed.” Luciis chuckled at me, his eyes belittling me as a fool or future food, maybe just both.
With one arm Dracula tore them apart and drank their organs like Capri-Sun’s while he choked me safely away from his body with the other.
Suddenly coated in a fresh trio of crimson splashes, he returned to the threshold without a breath. I eyed him and my stomach seized in fright, instantly looked away.
This was the first time I had seen my employer.
My eyes were beginning to bulge when Dracula dropped me to the ground, instantly turning as he did to drip his way back into the shadows of the castle, step by step. As if he was a man again, his fill achieved, the creature retreated to its chambers.
The door slammed and I was left in the silence of my jittering. I crawled down the tower stairs shuddering and heaving. I was still alive. I was still a man. I think.
Dracula’s courier, I prowled back to my room with wary eyes, avoiding the moon’s rays — those little reflected bits of sun — all along the way. ~
~ adapted from a dream ~